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Volume Clouds by Rory Hallman

After you are through with this tutorial you will know how to create realistic clouds with
volume fog.
Volume clouds are processor intensive when rendering. This file can be downloaded at
the bottom of the page.

Step 1: For volume clouds to work you must first define the limits of the scene. For the
renderer to know when and where
to stop rendering you must create a backdrop. A booleaned sphere or a box works fine.
For my example I will use a booleaned

Make a hemisphere with a radius of 50 and 16 segments.

Click on the scale button.
Scale the sphere down 10% while holding shift. 3dsmax will ask you if you want to clone
the object, select copy and click ok.
Move the inner sphere so it is offset with the outer sphere.

Step 2: Next boolean the spheres together.

Select the outer sphere.
Under geometry pick compound objects.
Select boolean then pick copy and select the inner hemisphere.
You now have made a good backdrop.
Step 3: Set up a camera inside and the sphere.
Tilt the camera so that it has the inside of the sphere in it's view.
Select a blue material for the sphere.

Step 4: In the Render enviroment select add volume fog.

Select exponential.
Density 40
Step size 4
Max steps 100
Select fog background
Select fractal noise.
Noise threshold high =1
noise threshold low =.2
uniformity =0
levels =6
size =40
wind = front
phase =0
strength =0

Select the camera view and render. Be patient because this is very processor intensive.
You can add ground and
whatever else you would like to the scene. These clouds appear to be real without adding
any geometry to your scene.
You can even do a realistic fly through. If you would like to just limit them to a certain
place in your scene use an atmoshpereic
apperatus in the helpers rollout.

The following is a very basic tutorial on how to create a realistic laser for use in your 3DS
MAX scenes.
Instead of
building the
laser using a
model, trying to
map it in
different and
clever ways,
we'll simply use
a beam of light
like a real laser.
The idea of a
laser in the real
world is that
(a.) leave an emitter
in such a tight,
linear beam that
it will stay
parallel for an
extremely long
distance. The
ideal laser will
never "cone
out" the way
spotlights do.
Even if we
squeeze the
cone down to a
very tight
angle, the
spotlight will
represent a
laser beam (a.).

Luckily 3DS offers the

direct light (b.)--its beam
extends parallel, unlike the
spotlight. We'll use one of
these for our laser.

The light should be set to a

narrow beam. I used the
following settings:


Since a laser is generally

recognizable in its red
wavelength (other laser
hues exist), I used red for
the color of the light. And
setting the multiplier higher
will give the laser its
characteristic blaze--a
laser's source and reflection
are much brighter than your
average light. I used the
following settings:
(c.)You'll want to add
lights to the scene. 3D Studio uses default lights for new scenes, but once you
add one light (as you have with the laser), the default lights are turned off and
you must add your own to light the scene. If you don't, only the laser will be
lighting things up and it only illuminates a very small area.

Once rendered, the laser's effect should look something like this (c.).

This is good for the typical "forehead shot," in which someone has got a high-
powered rifle aimed at them, and there is no sign of the laser other than the little
red dot. But say we want more; say we want the beam as well. For this we use the
Environme nt settings. Add a Volume Light effect to the Environment:
Pick the direct light for this effect:

Set the color of the fog to straight red, like the light itself, and set the density to
magic number 13 (this worked well for me):
Now the beam is visible (d.). This looks great...
if you're going for the computer-generated look.
But if you're aiming for realism, you'll have to
admit that this is really cheesy-looking. Laser
beams are never visible in pure air--there must
be some amount of dust or smoke in the
environment. (I seem to remember my ninth-
grade chemistry teacher slamming two
chalkboard erasers together in the beam of a
laser.) Accordingly, dust and smoke never fill a
space as evenly as this laser would seem to
(d.) indicate.

Turn the noise on. I used the following settings:

This looks much better.

Don't you think?

That's basically it for the

laser. And the great thing
is that it's actually light
and not a visual trick, so
you can treat it like light,
passing it around and
through different
reflective and refractive
(e.) objects with the intended
effects (see below).
[ laser hitting a marble of sorts ]

[ laser passing through a glass orb ]

Okay, so you read this laser tutorial. If you're like 80% of the people who have read it, going by
the feedback I've received, you're more interested in creating this glass orb than the laser itself.

This page sponsored by 3dcafe.com.

This tutorial created by Brian Hauge, 12-16-1999.
(in R2.5)

The following is a very basic tutorial on how to create a reflective marble, or

glass orb.

When I first started using 3D STUDIO MAX I was confused about how to
use the materials, maps, etc., and could not find even a basic tutorial on how
to use them, so I had to figure it out myself. As it turns out, one tiny little
button was the key. (And I'll show you which if you keep reading...)

Anyway, here is how to make a reflective orb.

Create a sphere. Here's the first version of our orb:

Now open up the MATERIAL EDITOR.

Make a material of type RAYTRACE by clicking the type button:

and choosing RAYTRACE when the list appears.

Now change the settings to approximately those

seen below, specifically those in yellow:
The settings like DIFFUSE and TRANSPARENCY are changed by clicking the
colored rectangle near by, and choosing the appropriate color.
TRANSPARENCY, I believe, only goes by the lightness or darkness of the
shade, so some level between (or including) black and white is all that is needed.
DRAG that material to the orb object, which will apply the material.

Here is the orb after applying the RAYTRACE material:

Not too impressive. It needs some reflections. And here's the part I didn't figure
out for a long while when beginning 3DS MAX: You could click the colored
rectangle next to REFLECT and have it reflect evenly to a certain degree, but
you can also apply a map to it by clicking this little button:

Do it, and select the FALLOFF map when the list appears. The settings for the
FALLOFF map should be something like:
Change them appropriately, and play with these a little when you think you are

Click this little bugger to get back "up" into the RAYTRACE material settings:

Here is the orb now:

Much nicer. I think so at least. Much of the remaining effects depend highly on
lighting, backlighting, and of course you must give the orb an environment to
But for the most part, you can just play around with the settings to make it fit.

And that is a SIMPLE ORB.

(I have, since the creation of this tutorial, found a version of the elusive glass
orb which is much better...much more realistic, much more glass-like.)

Basically, if you hollow-out the orb using boolean subtraction of another sphere,
you get some nice reflections:
Introduction to Advanced Light (Sky light)- 3Dsmax 5

In 3dsmax release 5 Lightscape render joined the 3d engine to improve the

power of 3dsmax. Now you can use radiosity without plugins of fakeosity.

First, you may construct a simple scene, with simple objetcs, floor and a camera

to test how the light works.

works. Go to the menu Create>Lights>Photometric. You will see some of the new

features of the 3dsmax5.

Choose the IE Sky. The Multiplier will define the strenght of the ligh, while the Sky

the color of the light and "clear, partly cloudy, cloudy" should set how it will come.

Click and drag it in the viewport, to set where the sun is

So you can go to the menu Rendering>Advanced Lighting

Select Light Tracer

Let's see some settings:

the Color Bleed, will define the reflection of the object light

the Bounces will define how much photons will bounce in the scene

high values means lighter scene and more time rendering...

The sky light will create a diffuse illumination like above. If you want more

strength, try change the values of the multiplier on the sky light menu, bounces etc.
Same configuration, but bounces values is 2. Note the softer shadows.

Now let's see a tip to get a better results

The multipier here is 0,5 instead of 0,35 of the other examples.

The shadows get a bit of noise, it's because of the Initial sample spacing

look again at this image

The initial Sample Spacing is 16x16, subdividing down to 1x1

If you want more quality (and more time to render) you can set instead

of 16x16, 1x1, then it will look like this:

Of course you can set the values between 16x16 and 1x1 to get intermediary results

if do you want to see how the photons are working on the scene enable the Show
Samples box

That's it hope it helps someone

created by

-Mario Russo


Step 1:

The trick to making your animation's have a cartoon look is to render

your animation twice. The first time you render it you need to give all of
the objects a 100% Luminance value. You also have to go through and
give every object a different color, this is what allows you to create the
2D cartoon effect.
Step 2:

Render your animation a second time, this time setting the colors to what
you want them to be in the final animation. In some animation programs
you can create a 3 tone shading effect by adjusting the Shading Dropoff
and the Specular Dropoff.
Step 3:

Bring your two animation's into After Effects and place then in a new
comp with the funky colored one on top. Apply the KPT 2 filter "Find
Edges & Invert". If you don't have the KPT 2 filters there are other
filters out that have a similar effect.

Step 4:

Add the Color Balance (HLS) filter and adjust the saturation all the way
down to change the lines to gray scale.

Step 5:

Add the Levels filter and adjust it to change all the gray lines to black.

Step 6:

The Final step is to switch the transfer controls for the top layer to

Rendering with shadows on in step two gives a nice effect.

Download a Quicktime movie of the Knight Running (320x240

Any questions or comments e-mail to forrestbro@aol.com

CREATING LANDSCAPES by Pål Vågsæther Karlsen

Did you ever feel like playing God? Just a little? Well....here is a step by step
walkthrough on how to at least be able to make landscapes. Of course, this is only for 3D
Studio MAX, so maybe you shouldn't order that ticket to Valhalla just yet.....

Making landscapes is an important field in any 3D program. For this tutorial, you will
need to use bot MAX and a paint program, (such as Photoshop, Fractal Design Painter
etc.). First of all, a heightmap is a painted map that represents a heightfield. The light
colours are the highest points, while the darker points are the lower points. Here are a few

Here are a few heightmaps. The middle one is also used in an image I did of a lighthouse. All of these are
made with Photoshop.

So, how do we go about making these heightmaps? In my case, I use Photoshop. This
tutorial will deal with making a peak. The first thing you need to do is to use your paint-
program to make a heightmap. Use a soft brush for the rough sketch of the landscape.
Here is the initial heightmap for my landscape:
Notice that this image is only a scaled version of the actual image. The original size is 500x500. Here you
can see the rough outline of my landscape.

It might also be wise to use a blur-function, if your landscape looks too jagged. I use
Gaussian blur for this.

Next, you will have to make the appearence of erotion. In Photoshop, there is a smudge-
function, that gives me the chance to use various brush-sizes to smudge the image.

Here is the finished heightmap. Notice how the ersion.streaks make it look more real.

Now, it's time to fire up MAX (this is very important). For the landscape, you need to
make a box. My box is sized 200x200, and has 50x50 segments in length/width:

Here is the box parametres and also the box in Perspective viewport.
This box is the basis of your landscape. To make a landscape out of it, you need to use the
Displace modifier. This modifier is not in the default set of MAX' modifiers, so you will
have to add it:

1) The Displace button. 2) If you have not already done so, click this button to add the Displace modifier.

Click this button to see this rollout:

Select the image you have made for your landscape, and set the amount of displace. I use 100 for my
landscape here.

You will have to play around with both your paint program and MAX to achieve the
landscape you want. Here is my landscape viewed through the Perspective viewport:
Here is my landscape. Note that this image is merged from both wireframe and shaded viewport.

And that's it. I have not talked about making the map for this, but you will have to deal
with that on your own. Happy landscaping!

BUBBLES by Erik Borzi

If you ever need to create bubbles for an animation, and would like to do it
without spending a fortune on a plug-in that will animate hundreds of spheres
that are texture mapped - then this tutorial will be a sound solution. 3D Studio
Max has many powerful tools, that when used correctly will give surprising
results. For this tutorial, I'll show you how to use the snow particle generator and
a simple texture map to create convincing bubbles.
I am assuming that you know how to use particles, space warp
modifiers, and the material editor. Lets begin by creating a Snow
particle emitter. It would be best for this example to copy the settings
from the settings in (fig 1). Set the emitter at the center of the world
and point it upwards. Note that the "Render:" is set to "Facing"
instead of the default "Six Point." Facing particles work best when
rendered with a Camera, or a Perspective viewport.

Make a copy of this emitter by shift+left clicking on it - rotate it

from the top viewport about 45°. This is so that we can get a random
set of particles without changing the parameters too drastically. The
only settings you need to change are the render count (change 300 to
400), flake size (change 3.0 to 1.5), the speed (change 2.0 to 2.3),
variation (5.0 to 7.0), and leave all the other settings the same.
Notice that the timing is set to: Start = -200, Life = 200 at constant,
this will create a looping cycle for the particles. Now we need to
create our texture for the particles. Facing particles are basically a
square shaped polygon. I created a 200 x 200 spherical bubble map
using a paint program. It's important that you have an alpha channel
so that the edges are invisible when the texture is rendered, that way,
all you see is the bubble. See (fig 2) for the texture map, and the
mask. Once you have created the texture, go into the material editor
and place the texture into Diffuse using a bitmap browser. Copy this
into Opacity by dragging and dropping into the Opacity box. Be sure
to set the mono-channel output to Alpha. This will ensure the edges
are invisible.

Figure 1

Figure 2
Figure 3

Next we need to throw some life into these bubbles so that when they move, they
will wobble. With a fancy and expensive particle generator we could apply a
noise, wave, or ripple space warp modifier to the sphere and get similar results.
Apply Noise to Bump, and set the value for the noise Size to 30, set it from
Regular to Turbulence, and animate the Phase from 0 to 1.0 over 100 frames.

Finally, all we need to do now is to add a Wind space warp modifier so that the
particles will swirl, and wander about as if they were raising through turbulent
water. See (fig 3) for positioning of the wind space warp modifier. Using Bind to
Space Warp, link the Wind space warp to both particle generators, one at a time.
The settings for the Wind space warp should be: strength 1.0, decay 0, planar,
turbulence 0.44, frequency 0.43, scale 1.0. Experiment with the Wind space warp
modifier by animating it from left to right gradually to get varied motion.

Now you are almost ready to render. For a finishing touch, I added a gradient
background using similar color values from the bubble. At this point you can do
what you would like so that the bubbles merge in with your scene. You may want
to use motion blur, which adds realism to the motion of the bubbles. Render

All rights reserved. No part of this tutorial may be reproduced or transmitted in

any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying,
recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written
permission from CELEFEX ANIMATION, except for the inclusion of brief
quotations in a review with credit to CELEFEX ANIMATION, and respective
authors. © 1998 CELEFEX


Creating underwater scenes is one of those things. You need to know how to do it. And
it's also quite easy to do, especially with 3D Studio MAX. MAX has a lot of features built
in that are very useful for creating those ship-wreck environment. This tutorial shows you
how to easily build a believable underwater-environment, and you need to know how to
use environment effects (fog and volume lights) and a few features in the material editor.
Finally, there will be a few extra tips for you Sand Blaster users out there. I will also
asume you know the basics of 3D Studio MAX, so I won't go into how to scale mapping
coordinates and such things. I will also create a ZIP-file which you can download at the
bottom of this page, which will include materials, maps and scenes. Ok.....dive in!

Step 1. First of all, we need the ocean-floor. Create a box with these measures:

Length: 200.0

Width: 200.0

Height: -5.0

Length Segs: 75

Width Segs: 75

Height Segs: 1

With this, you have the basic element of your floor. To make it look more natural, or "not
computer-generated", add a noise modifier to it:
Here is the Noise rollout. Set the parametres like this: Fractal on and Z-scale to 10.
Notice that if you want the floor to be more "rocky", just increase the Z-value. But for this
tutorial, 10 will do.

Ok, now we need the material. This is actually quite easy, because the material I use for
this tutorial is the standard Sand Texture you find in the default MAX material library.
So there is no need to include that map in the ZIP-file. Apply the material to the ocean-
floor and apply an UVW Map modifier to set the mapping coordinates. Scale the
mapping any way you like it. Now, we're ready for a test-render:

Notice that there is no light-sources in the scene so far, so the light here is from the
default MAX light.

Ok, so now we have the ocean-floor. This is just one of many steps, so read on.

Step 2. Next we need to think of how things look under water. One thing we have to
think about, is that we can't see very far. This is due to light having to travel through
water, which is substantially more dense than air. Thus, we have to create the notion of
water in our scene. This can easily be done with Fog. Go into the Environment dialogue
box (on the Rendering menu), and add a Fog effect. This should have these values:
These are the values I used for the fog.

Note that the fog-colour is (R: 58 G: 91 B: 99). This colour will make it look dark, yet
not too dark. If your scene is way down (like thousands of feet) you could use a darker
colour. You will have to experiment with this to see what fits your scene. Here is another

A new test-rendering, with fog. Now it's starting to look like it's under water........or a very
toxic planet.

Step 3. Next, we will add the underwater light. Remember those Flipper-episodes? With
the light under water? This is called Caustic light. This appears when light is refracted
through the water with it's ripples and waves. This can also be done vert easily, with a
projector. I will also include the image I use for the projector in the ZIP-file at the end of
this tutorial. (The name of the map is caustic.jpg).

First of all, create the light-source. This should be a spot-light (or directional light, but I
use spot) some distance away from the ocean floor:
Here is the light-source from the front-viewport. The light's colour is here (R: 180 G: 203
B: 211)

Go into the material editor, pick a free slot (I picked the 6th slot), and add a new material;
choose Bitmap. The way to do this, is click the "Get Material" button, and pick a
"Bitmap". Now, in the empty Bitmap-slot, pick caustic.jpg (remember to put the map
from the zip-file in the 3dsmax\maps directory). That's it for the material. Now go to the
spot-light again, and turn on Projector. Next to that, click Assign and choose the
caustic.jpg map from the material editor (I said earlier I won't go into these things,
because this is basic MAX stuff). Here is the material settings and the light settings:
These are the settings in my scene.

We're ready for another test-render:

Notice how the caustic lighting adds the "underwater" feeling to the scene.
Next, to make it look like the water has some substance, add a volume light to the spot-
light. This is done in the Environment dialogue box (in the Rendering menu). Add a new
effect, choose Volume Light, and pick the spot-light for it. Also, set the Density to 1.0, or
the scene will look completely white. I also use completely white for the fog-colour, but
of course you can experiment with this to see what fits your scene. The light will now
cast faint rays that make the light look like its really traveling through water.

And that's it! This is the basic stuff for making underwater scenes. Add rock, ship-wrecks,
whatever to make this look like an underwater scene. Of course, no sea life is pretty dull,
so read the Sea-Weed and Sand Blaster sections further down to se how you can add
more life. Anyway, here is the final render for this scene:

Voila! Your own personal ocean floor.

The mesh for this is included as scene.max in the ZIP-file. Remember to put the
caustic.jpg in your maps-directory, or it loses some of it's impact.

Here is a small tip for you: if you have a mesh of a weed or reed of some kind, it's quite
easy to make it look like sea-weed. Here is a Reed I created with Silicon Garden (for 3D
Studio R4) and also scaled in the z-direction:
A perfectly normal garden reed, unsuspecting of what's going to hit it....

Next, to get that "underwater" look, just put a Wave spacewarp on it. Here is the waved

Vive la wave. Here is the waved reed. Don't you just love Spacewarps?

The mesh for this reed (with the wave) is included as weed.max in the ZIP-file.

Sand Blaster
Ok, now it's time to roll out your Sand Blaster. If you don't have SB, this section is
meaningless. However, this is also achievable woth normanl MAX features; it just takes a
lot more work. This section will show you how to make bubbles with Sand Blaster.

Ok, imagine you're making a scene with a diver or something else that might need
bubbles. With Sand Blaster, this is quite easy. Let's say you have a broken air-hose. This
will most definately create bubbles. For this, I start a new scene, and make a tube just as
an example):

The tube.

Also, as you know if you've been using SB, you need an emitter. For this example, I place
a small GeoSphere at the mouth of the tube. I also place the SB system, and rotate it in

The particle system (SB) and the tube. This is at frame 30. See below to check out the
settings for SB.

Now please remember to hide the sphere, as it only serves as an emitter. If you hide it
(under the Display-tab) it will still affect the SB-system.

Ok, to set up the SB-system, you will have to tweak this at your own. For this tutorial, I
set both Particle Activation and Render Activation on, and leave the particle number at
the default count of 100 (I will not show a screen-shot of this, because the rollout is pretty
intimidating in size). Under Render I set the particles to be Spheres, and change Particle
Scale to 5.0 and Scale Variation to 0.3. This means that the spheres, or bubbles, will be
somewhat varied in size. These numbers might need other counts in your scene, but this
is what I used. And that's it for the particles. You also need a material for it. That will also
have to be adjusted to your scene, so I won't go into making that. However, it should be
transparent, and maybe have a faint reflection map (just a bitmap will do). Here is the
rendering of these bubbles at frame 30:

Here is the rendering of these bubbles. This is just an example, so don't mind the dull
background. However, this technique can be used to easily create bubbles, and its also
animateable. If you see some strange "light colours" around the objects in this image,
that's only a result of the jpg-compression.

And that's it. The mesh for this is included as bubbles.max in the ZIP-file. If you load
this without SB installed, you will experience errors.

Additional tip: This technique can also be used to create swarms of fish. Just make one
fish, and use that as a custom particle. If you do this, please mind the orientation of the
particles. Set it to follow the path. You also want to create a target as well, so that the
particles (fish) flow from one point to another.

Throughout this tutorial I have used several techniques, and also a map you might not
have. Therefore, I have compiled a ZIP-file with all three scenes (scene.max, weed.max
and bubbles.max) and the caustic.jpg map for the caustic light. Download examples.zip
here and take a look first-hand. Please not that you will need the caustic.jpg map in your
maps directory to render the main scene. You will also need Sand Blaster installed if you
want to look at bubbles.max.
Here is an image I created a while ago. It is an underwater scene where I use all of the
above techniques.
Blinking Lights
In this tutorial I'll show you how to make lights struggle to stay on. I assume that
you know some basic knowledge of 3D Studio Max 2.5 which is the one I'm

1. Lets load a new scene in max. I created couple of boxes with some building
lights textures, a level ground and a lamp for this tutorial. I hope you can do that
much else you should find another hobby if not a job.
2. As the light bulb, I used a Capsule from the Extended Primitives option with a
materiel as follows: Defuse Color = white, Shininess and Shin. Strength = 0
and Self Illumination = 100.
3. Create a Target Spot light below the Capsule we just created and direct it
towards the ground. At least for this tutorial you're going to do this.
4. Now that we have created the scene we'll make the light blink. Open up the
Track View and find the spot light's Multiplier track under the Object (Target

5. Assign a Noise Float Controller by clicking on Assign Controller while the

Multiplier track is selected and selecting Noise Float.
6. Right click on Multiplier track and select Properties from the pop up menu.
There set the Strength to about 1.8 and check the box next to >0. The Strength
will randomly create a value for the Multiplier of the light which is the intensity of
the light. The checked box confines it to the positive value so that there would be
some light instead of it shining black light like a black hole or something.
7. You may also play around with the Frequency and Fractal Noise Roughness. I
chouse 0.5 for the Frequency and 0 for the Roughness with the Fractal Noise
box checked. These values should be played around with since it depends on
what you're trying to create.
8. To see what your getting while playing around without having to rendering the

animation click on the Function Curves to see the values for any frame. At
whatever frame the point of the curve is located that is the value of the Multiplier.
9. Now if you render your professional animation you'll notice that the light blinks,
but not the light bulb. Select the Multiplier and Copy the Controller . Scroll
around till you find the Capsule's Self-Illum. under the Material #1. Select the
Self-Illum. and Paste the Controller .
10. Right click on it and select Properties. Set the Strength to about 185, but
leave everything else the way it is since it should act the same way as the light.
Now you can render your animation and see what comes out.

Note1: Play around with the values to get what you want. The values I gave may
not work well for you since each scene is different and the results may be
different as well.

Note2: Just in case you're wondering the Ramp In and Ramp Out values are
used to create a ramp for the noise where the values increase to their maximum
or minimum. Well just set one of them and see what happens to your spiky curve,
then you'll know what I mean

Animatable sky backgrounds by Pål Vågsæther Karlsen

This is a quick tutorial on how to make sky backgrounds in 3D Studio MAX. As

standard, MAX has the possibility to add environmental maps, meaning the move and
roate as the camera moves and rotates. This is however not a very impressive effect, since
making a background with this is very hard to look real. Very often, you get seems where
them map's borders meet, and the map also needs to be huge to not look fuzzy, unless you
use some kind of tiling, which isn't good for much more than star backgrounds.
This tutorial will show you how to make skies in 3D Studio MAX that not only look
good, they can also easily animated. You can make the clouds change shape, move,
rotate, change size or almost anything you want. I will take a step back in technology
however, since this technique does not work with environmental maps. For that reason, I
will use a mesh for the clouds, the mesh being a large object.

The landscape

First of all, we need a landscape or something. If you haven't already done so, read the
landscape tutorial I wrote, available on this site. Here is the landscape I made:
It doesn't have to be very detailed for this tutorial. I used 50x50 steps in the box.

The background

The background also needs a colour. This colour should be the SKY colour, not the cloud
colour. I use a light blue colour here:

Set the background colour in the Environment control box. You know where it is.......

The clouds

Of course, since this tutorial is about clouds, I should get around to that. Now we have a
landscape and a sky colour. Now we need to add the clouds. First of all, we need a large
dome. Make this by substracting (boolean......I know....) a large hemisphere (geosphere,
check "Hemisphere") from a slightly larger one:
The two hemispheres. Substract the smaller one from the largest.
A small note on this. When performing a boolean operation, you might get your mesh
screwed up, so go to the Edit menu and click "Hold", so you can get it back if it get's
Now we need the clouds themselves. We make those in material editor. Pick one of the
standard materials, and turn Shin. Strength to zero. You can also set some self
illumination. I use 100 fir this tutorial. You don't have to bother with the colours for this
but you can if you want. In the Diffuse slot, put a Noise map. The noise will be the
clouds. Enter the values in the screenshot below:

Enter these values.

Make sure you have coordinate type UVW checked. Also, set the tiling to 2 and 8, and
leave the last one at 1. The noise size should be 0.1. These values are of course just an
example, so use the values you find useful. Now......copy the Noise map into the Opacity
slot, and make sure you copy it as an instance. This way, the black areas in the noise will
be transparent, so we can see the blue colour we behind. You're probably wondering why
I'm not using blue instead of black and skip the opacity alltogether. I will explain that
later. Now apply the material to the dome.
Also, add mapping coordinates to the dome. Use spherical mapping, and move the gizmo
so the top of it sits right on top of the dome. Now we can render a test:
A nice sky.
And there is the map itself. Now we should take a look at animaition. As you know,
animation in MAX is easy. You just turn on animation and do the changes you want. In
this case, we should mess with the material itself. You can animate almost any parametre
in MAX, including the parameters for the noise here. Let's take a look at the parametres

The parametres for the noise.

Offset: will move the noise along the specified axis. Tiling: will specify the repetition of
the noise. Angle: will rotate the noise around the specified axis. Size: the noise size.
Phase: course of animation.
As you can see, a lot of parametres define the noise. When we also know that we can
animate any of them in MAX, we have endless possibilities. Phase will change the look
of the noise, while the coordinates will change the position of it. Play around with these
parametres to see what they do. Now you have the material for it at least.
I said I would explain why I used opacity instead of just a blue/white noise. That would
work too, but you will also be a bit limited. When using opacity, you have the possibility
of adding several layers of clouds, just by adding more domes. You can also use gradients
on the outer dome to make a sunset or whatever you want. With a blue/white noise, this
would be difficult. Anyway, now you have the start of it. Do some experimenting to see
what you can make of it.
This page was created by Pål Vågsæther Karlsen

This simple tutorial will show you how to create a lathed NURBS surface and make it
morph to another surface.

NURBS surfaces are objects created with curves instead of with polygons. To create a
NURBS surface in 3ds max, you must first do one of two things:

• Create a flat NURBS surface from the Create panel, or

• Convert a primitive, spline or NURBS curve to a NURBS surface.

Once you've done one of these things, you can select the NURBS object and go to the
Modify panel to access all the NURBS functions.

1. On the Create panel, click Geometry. Choose NURBS Surfaces from the
pulldown menu.

2. Click Point Surf. Click and drag in any viewport to create the flat NURBS

This surface will be used just to get the NURBS surface going. It could be
either a Point Surf or CV Surf, it doesn't matter. A Point Surf is shown

3. Go to the Modify panel. The NURBS functions are available on the panel.
Expand the Create Curves rollout. Click Point Curve. Create a curve suitable
for lathing. Make the curve with at least five points, similar to the one shown
below. Click the Point Curve button to turn it off.
4. Turn on the Animate button. Go to a frame other than 0, such as 25. Access
the Points sub-object level. Click Select and Move and click and drag on one
or more points of the curve to move them around.

5. Go to other frames and move points again.

6. Turn off the Animate button, and click NURBS Surface on the Modifier Stack
to return to the main level of the object. Expand the Create Surfaces rollout.
Click Lathe, and click on the curve.

7. Go to the end of all rollouts to access the Lathe parameters. Choose the
correct orientation and location for the lathe object. You might have to click
Flip Normals to get the lathed object to look right. Check the object in the
Perspective view to make sure it looks right.
8. Play the animation. The lathed object morphs from one shape to another.

9. To get rid of the original flat surface, click Sub-Object and choose Surfaces
as the sub-object level. Select the original surface and press the <Delete>
key on the keyboard.

This tutorial should give you a basic idea of how to get started with NURBS
surfaces and animation. Experiment with the NURBS tools to learn more.

For 3ds max 5 tutorials, go here. Even better, order my book,

Harnessing 3ds max 5.

3D Studio MAX 3.1 tutorials

© 2000 Aaron F. Ross.

#04: Cloning and the Xform Modifier (Daisy)

We will be making a couple of flowers which blow in the wind.

1. Open 3D Studio MAX, or select File | Reset. Maximize the Perspective viewport and create a
sphere at approximate coordinates (0,0,0). Give it a radius of about 20 units.

2. Select the sphere and go to the Modify panel. Click the Edit Stack button and select Convert
to Editable Mesh. (Alternately, you may right-click the sphere and select Convert to Editable

3. With the sphere still selected, go to the Modifiers rollout of the Modify panel. Click the More
button. Scroll down and select Xform. Click OK to add the Xform modifier to the sphere.
4. Minimize the Perspective viewport. Then click Zoom Extents All in the viewport control
toolbox. All viewports zoom in to the sphere. Make sure the sphere's Sub-object button is turned
on (yellow) and the selection level in the drop-down list is set to Gizmo.

5. In the Main Toolbar, click and drag on the Scale button. From the flyout, select Non-Uniform
Scale. Right-click an empty area of the Top viewport to select it. With the Reference Coordinate
System set to View, click the Y axis of the sphere's Transform Gizmo. Drag to scale the sphere
along the Y axis of the viewport. As you drag the mouse, watch the Status Bar as it interactively
updates the scale percentages. Scale the sphere to about 20% of its original depth. Your screen
should look like this:

6. Select Edit | Clone from the Menu Bar, and create a copy of the modified sphere. With the
second sphere automatically selected, go to the Hierarchy panel and click Affect Object Only so
the button turns blue.

7. Click Select and Move from the Main Toolbar. In the Perspective viewport, drag the second
sphere's Transform Gizmo in the Z axis of the View (or World) coordinate system. Move the
second sphere up about 35 units. Notice that the Pivot Point of the second sphere remains at
coordinates (0,0,0). Click Zoom Extents All again to zoom out.

8. Deselect Affect Object Only. Go back to the Modify panel and turn Sub-object on for the
sphere's existing Xform modifier. In the Main Toolbar, click Select and Non-uniform Scale, then
go to the Top viewport and scale down the flower petal in the X axis in the View coordinate
system. You should now have the center of the flower and one petal, like this:

9. Turn off Sub-object mode. Right-click on the Perspective viewport to select it. With the flower
petal still selected, click Array from the Main Toolbar. The top of the dialog box should read
"Array Transformation: World Coordinates (Use Pivot Point Center)."

10. In the Array dialog box, look in the Incremental section. Under the Y column, and in the row
labeled Rotate, enter the number 30 and hit the Tab key. This assigns an axis of rotation, and an
angle of rotation for each successive copy relative to the last, in degrees.

11. You will see that entering 30 degrees under Incremental causes an update in the Totals
section. With the default Count of 10 objects in the Array, multiplied by an angle of 30 degrees,
the total rotation is 300 degrees. Enter 12 in the box marked Array Dimensions, 1D, Count. Hit
the Tab key to enter the number without closing the dialog box. The Totals section reflects the
change: 12 copies multiplied by 30 degrees = 360 degrees total. Click OK.
12. From the Menu Bar, click Edit | Select All. With the entire flower highlighted, right-click it and
select Collapse Selected to Mesh. This erases the Xform modifiers and all Sphere parameters,
leaving you with all objects of the type Editable Mesh.

13. Select the center of the flower. In the Modify Panel, verify that Editable Mesh is the current
object type, listed under Modifier Stack. Scroll down to the Edit Geometry rollout. Click Attach
List. When the dialog box comes up, select All objects in the list. Click Attach to close the Attach
List dialog. You now have a single mesh object for the flower and its petals.

14. Add a new Xform modifier to the flower. Under the Modifier rollout, click the More button and
select Xform from the bottom of the list. Make sure that you are in Sub-Object: Gizmo mode; it
should be turned on automatically when you add the Xform modifier. Tilt the flower back a bit by
rotating it in its local X axis. Right click the flower and Convert to Editable Mesh again. Go to the
top of the Modify panel and rename your object "Flower."

15. In the Top viewport, create a cylinder at the center of the world to be used for the flower stem.
Give it a height value of _200 so it is below the flower. Change the number of Height Segments
for the cylinder to 12. If the cylinder sticks out of the front of the flower, reduce its radius or move
it back so the stem doesn't come through the front of the flower head. After clicking Zoom
Extents All in the viewport control toolbox, your screen looks like this:
16. Select the flower head. Under the Edit Geometry rollout of Editable Mesh, click Attach.
Move your cursor to the stem cylinder; the cursor turns to a plus sign. Click the cylinder to attach
it to the flower. Right-click an empty viewport area to finish the Attach command; its green button
turns grey again. The Cylinder is automatically collapsed to an Editable Mesh and attached to the

17. Add a Bend modifier to the flower. Turn on Sub-object, and select Center from the drop-
down list. In the Front viewport, move the Transform Gizmo down in the Y axis, in the View
Coordinate System. Move the Center of the Bend modifier's effect to the bottom of the flower
stem. Change the Bend Angle to about 45 degrees. Bend Axis should be "Z".
18. Turn off Sub-object. Select the flower in the Front viewport. With the Select and Move
transform on and the View coordinate system active, hold down the Shift key while dragging the
flower's Transform Gizmo in the X axis. In the Clone Options dialog, select Instance. Now when
you alter the Bend parameters of either flower, they both sway in the breeze.
19. Try creating reference objects instead. You can add more modifiers to referenced objects
without affecting the master object or any of the other references. Any changes to the master
object will be seen in the references, but additional modifiers in the references will not affect the
master object.

Return to 3DS MAX tutorials

Return to home

Brick Wall
This tutorial I'll demonstrate how to create a nice brick wall using bitmaps. As
simple it sounds you may not get a realistic result when it comes to corners.
1. To begin create a wall in the Front viewport with windows such as in the image
bellow. Just use splines from the Create panel and then attach them all
together. Extrude the shape and give it a value of about 10 if the wall is about
200 in width and 100 in height as in the image bellow.

2. Open up the Material Editor and set the defuse to bitmap. Chouse
brkwea_t.jpg as the bitmap that comes with max and set both titling values to
about 3. For the Bump Map set it to Bitmap chousing brkwea_b.gif which also
comes with max and here also set the titling to 3. You can download the images
from bellow if you don't have them. To make this easier click on the "Show Map in
Viewport" button to see what we are doing. Apply the material to the object
and exit the Material Editor.
3. From the Modify panel add a UVW Map. Set the mapping to box and click
on the Sub-Object button just above. Now your going to have to play around with
rotating the gizmo to get the right look. All I did is rotated it 90 degrees in the left
view and set the smallest value as the value of the height which should be 100.
Render it and see what comes out. If it doesn't look good just go back and rotate
the gizmo. Pay attention the the map in the viewport, but it will not be accurate.
Use the Fit button after you rotate the gizmo and then resize it so that the bricks
on the side of the window look normal rather then very tiny. Anyway it should look
something like the image bellow.
Materials: brkweat.jpg, brkweab.gif

Advanced water material

So you want to make some water that reflects the objects in
the scene?

Read on! (I assume you have a basic knowledge of 3D MAX):

1. Enter the material editor, and create a RAYTRACED

material using the settings below
The settings for Map #2 (Noise) should be like this:

The raytraced material (and enabling og Supersampling)

makes rendering much slower, but is necessary to make
realistic reflections. So you better go out and make some
cofee when rendering on that old 80 MHz computer of yours!

2. Scroll down and make sure that the RAYTRACER
Controls are like this.Under OPTIONS make sure that Anti-
aliasing is ON. Maybe you want to mess around with
Reflection Fallof, to exclude far away objects from the

3. In the MAPS sections, only a sligthly BUMP is used.

The noise-map is the same as in the previos step #1 (see
4. And now the most important part: Apply the material
to an object. I use a box (20x20x20 segments) with a
largely scaled noise modifier applied to it. Place a couple
of lights - I think I've only used 1 lightsource for the
water in the above picture - tinted a bit yellow.

5. Render the scene (and have a coffee-break...)

6. Hmmm. Doesn't look perfect? NO! The water has to

reflect some sort of a sky to make it look realistic. So
make that sky! "Why is your sky always bluer than mine?",
Godmachine: Scenes from the second story - sorry back to
MAX: In the scene I created a box and applied a picture of
some clouds to it and placed it above the water, so that
the water reflects the box - make sure the box is lit by a
light or that its material is self-illuminated. You can see
the purple box representing the sky in the left-view of the
scene below:
7. [SHIFT]+Q. Voilá. End of the tutorial.

Ok this tutorials will show you how to get a really cool glass-crystal effect.

Start iff by resetting max. Then choose the geosphere object and draw a geosphere on
your perpective view

now to the right, under the geosphere settings unclick the smooth option, and choose Tera
for your shape.
This should give you a nice choppy image like hte one below

Now we are going to extrude each patch of the shape. To do this right click on the image
and choose convert> convert to editable patch.
Then right click on the image again, This time it should have a lot more options, clcik on
"extrude Patch"
Now click somewere on the image. When you put your cursor over the spot that you
clicked a new cursor image will apear. When it does, hold down the left mouse button
and drag. This should start to pul a piece of the shape outward

Keep doing this until you get a shape like the one below

Now we are going to smooth it out a little. To do this go to Modifiers> subdivision

surfices> and choose mesh smooth. The change the Ilteration to the value of 2 and dont
change anything els. This should give you an image like the one below
Now right click on the image and choose duplicate. The resive you duplicated object to a
small size and place it in front of your larg object

Now we are going to put a good material o it. Press "M" to bring up the material editor.
Then click on this

icon, and then find the material called "Reflection Lake Gold"
Then double click on it to bring it up in the material editor. Now chck the option that says
and then clcik where it says "none" and choose "falloff"

Now click the button below

Now all you have to do is render it and you should get something like the image below
there you go, now you know an ewasy way to get a vey cool effect in max.

creating simple water in 3d studio max 5.x...

Well, it has been suggested that I come up with a tutorial on how I

create my water planes in 3D Studio. So, here it is. I hope you can
follow along with it, and if you have any questions, you know where
to find me!

First off, open Max. (duh!)

Now, create a plane (200x200), with 10 segments for length and

width (fig 1).
(Fig 1) Creating a Plane....

Now, with that out of the way, open up the Material Editor. Choose
an open material slot, and we'll begin. This is going to be a
Standard material, so you don't need to change the type. Click on
the colour box beside Diffuse. You will then see a colour swatch
selector (much like fig 2 below). For the RGB values, enter 35, 35,

(Fig 2) Selecting the Diffuse Colour

Now, do the same thing for the Ambient Colour (if they aren't
already locked). Now, change the settings for the material to the
ones I you see in fig 3 below.
(Fig 3) Changing Settings

As you can see, I've set the Self-Illumination to 20, the Specular
Level to 110, and the Glossiness to 35. If everything worked out
fine, your material should look like this:

Yes, I know it doesn't look like water just yet, but hold on, cause it
will! Now, click your map's rollout, until you see this:
(Fig 4) The Map's Rollout